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Dia Mirza

Dia Mirza

(born 9 December 1981) is an Indian model, actress, producer, social worker and beauty queen who won the Miss Asia Pacific 2000 title. She made her acting debut with Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein (2001).

She subsequently featured in films including Dus (2005), Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006) and Sanju (2018). She co-owned a production house, Born Free Entertainment, with her ex-husband Sahil Sangha. Their first film, Love Breakups Zindagi, was released on 7 October 2011. After their divorce she launched her own production house, “One India Stories” in December 2019

Early and personal life

Mirza was born in India. Her father, Frank Handrich, was a German graphics and industrial fair designer, architect, artist and interior designer based in Munich. Her mother, Deepa, is a Bengali interior designer and landscaper who also volunteers to help alcoholics and drug addicts. When she was four-and-a-half years old, her parents were divorced. After her mother married Ahmed Mirza, a Dakhini Muslim man from Hyderabad, she adopted her step-father’s surname. He died in 2003.

After initially attending Vidyaranya High School, a co-ed school, Mirza was enrolled into Nasr School, a girls day school in Khairtabad. She then attended Stanley Junior College before graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from Ambedkar Open University, Hyderabad.

In April 2014, she became engaged to her longtime business partner Sahil Sangha, and they were married on 18 October 2014 at her husband’s farmhouse in Chattarpur on the outskirts of Delhi. In August 2019, Mirza announced their separation.

Career

Mirza worked while in college as a marketing executive for a media firm, Neeraj’s Multi-media Studio. At the same time, she modelled for print and TV commercials for brands such as LiptonWall’s ice cream, Emami and many more. She won Miss Asia Pacific in 2000.

Mirza wanted to complete her graduation in Arts by correspondence during the Miss Asia Pacific competition, modelling assignments, travelling and training. She could not complete her graduation due to being busy at work.

She debuted through Rehnaa Hai Terre Dil Mein, which did not do well at the box office, though it developed a cult following among Indian youth. She then appeared in movies such as DumDeewanapanTumko Na Bhool PaayengeTumsa Nahin Dekha – A Love StoryParineetaDusLage Raho Munnabhai and Salam Mumbai. In 2018, she appeared as Sanjay Dutt‘s wife Manyata Dutt in the biopic Sanju, which ranks among the highest grossing Indian films.

She appeared in the ZEE5 web series Kaafir. Set in Kashmir, she starred opposite Mohit Raina in the series. She was awarded the Dada Saheb Phalke International Film Festival Awards 2020 for her performance in Kaafir.  She has also produced Love Breakups Zindagi, Bobby Jasoos  and a sitcom web series titled Mind the Malhotras, streaming on Amazon Prime Video. The series stars Cyrus Sahukar and Mini Mathur in the lead. Mirza lent her voice to a snow leopard called Layla for an environmental podcast of Run Wild, which is a collaboration between Runtastic, the UN Environmental Programme and Internet of Elephants. 

She has written articles for Hindustan Times and other publications.

In December 2019 she announced she was forming a new production house “One India Stories” to create original content.

Titles

Dia Mirza was the second runner-up at Femina Miss India 2000 and was subsequently sent to Miss Asia Pacific 2000, where she won. She also won Miss Beautiful Smile, Miss Avon and Miss Close-Up Smile in Miss India. When she won the Miss Asia Pacific title on 3 December 2000 in Manila, the Philippines, she became the first Indian since Tara Anne Fonseca to win this title in 27 years. She completed the hat-trick of India winning international pageants in the year 2000; Lara Dutta won the Miss Universe title and Priyanka Chopra won the Miss World title in the same year.

Community services and activism

Mirza has been involved with Cancer Patients Aid Association and Spastics Society of India, and has worked extensively with the government of Andhra Pradesh to spread HIV awareness, prevention of female foeticide, PETACRY and most recently the NDTV Greenathon – an effort to find tangible solutions against pollution and the book, “Deke Dheko” by Radio Mirchi (a campaign initiated to collect books for underprivileged children). She is on the board of the Coca-Cola foundation that works towards development in rural India. She is associated with campaigns such as Sanctuary Asia’s Leave Me Alone and Female Foeticide.

In 2010 she adopted two cheetah cubs at the Prince of Wales zoological park in Lucknow.

Mirza, along with Aamir Khan, publicly expressed support for the Narmada Bachao Andolan, a group protesting the building of a dam. This aroused the ire of political activists from the Bharatiya Janata Party, who led a protest march against the actress. She won the Green Award at IIFA 2012 for spreading awareness about environment-related issues.

Along with these, Mirza has endorsed The Body Shop for their stand on a ban on animal testing and propagation of recycled packaging and natural products. She is the Eco-Ambassador for Panasonic.

Mirza has been felicitated at award functions for her active involvement in social and environmental issues.

She has been named the ambassador for the Swachh Bharat Mission’s youth-based ‘Swachh Saathi’ programme. As an ambassador, the actress would interact with school and college students from across the country through awareness sessions, community cleaning activities and motivational videos.

She joined Save The Children India as their first ever artist ambassador.

On World Environment Day 2017, she was appointed brand ambassador for the Wildlife Trust of India. She has lent her support to WTI’s wildlife conservation endeavours for several years and is a founder-member of the organisation’s Club Nature initiative, also supporting a campaign to raise awareness about the shrinking space for wild elephants in the country.

She was also appointed as the UN Environment’s Goodwill Ambassador for India in 2017 and on May 07, 2020, her term was further extended till 2022.  She was appointed as the UN Secretary General’s Advocate of Sustainable Development Goals. She also turned into a blogger to save the environment and create awareness.She hosted United Nations Champions Gala 2019 with Hollywood actor Alec Baldwin. She attended the 14th UN Conference of the Parties and hosted the finale reception.

Mirza initiated a cleanliness drive at Juhu beach on Independence Day 2019 and another at Mahim beach on 26th January, to make the beach free from single-use plastic.

Mirza supports Ramky’s BIG Green Ganesha and felicitated the winners with Tree Ganeshas in 2019.

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